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UAE sends over half a billion dollars of aid to Sudan after Israel normalisation

Sudanese have protested the UAE's influence in their country [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 October, 2020

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After apparent pressure on Sudan to normalise ties with Israel, the UAE has sent aid to the African country.

The UAE sent an aid package worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Sudan, just days after the African country normalised ties with Israel.

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) sent $556.5 million worth of aid to support Sudan's financial, economic, health, education, nutrition and agriculture sectors, Emirati WAM news agency reported.

"The aid was part of an overall Emirati grant worth 1.5 billion dollars to fulfil the basic needs of the Sudanese people," ADFD Director-General Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi told WAM in statements.

The UAE is a staunch backer of the current military junta in Sudan - which now shares power with civilian entities - that displaced former President Omar Al-Bashir in 2019.

Abu Dhabi has spearheaded the Arab-Israeli normalisation project since announcing in August it would establish ties with Israel.

Sudan's ambassador to the UAE said that Abu Dhabi had played a key part in Khartoum's normalisation with Israel, which was announced on 23 October and strongly opposed by the public.

"The UAE has played a significant role in achieving the peace accord. They closely followed the negotiations from the beginning and offered assistance to bring more parties to the negotiation table," said the ambassador Mohammed Amin Abdullah Al Karib.

The military - as well as the adjacent Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful paramilitary force that activists said played a leading role in last year's killings - is now in a fragile, three-year pact with civilians.

On 3 June 2019, anti-junta protesters took part in a sit-in in the capital Khartoum, which led to the military killing around 130 people during its crackdown on the demonstration.

Sudanese opposition parties also blamed the UAE for pressurising Khartoum into normalisation.

Earlier this month, a group of three Sudanese factions issued a collective statement calling for normalisation with Israel in return for Khartoum's de-listing and a package of economic support from the US.

The call was issued by the Umma Party - one of Sudan's largest and most influential political factions - and two rebel groups, the Eastern Front and the Sudan Liberation Movement - Second Revolution.

The American proposal is governed by the period of the upcoming presidential elections, and we should not miss this historic opportunity," said Mubarak Al-Fadel, leader of the Umma Party.

"After the results of the US presidential elections are announced, we will enter into a major crisis in Sudan if we do not agree to the offer made in the UAE," he said, referring to meetings between US and Sudanese officials in the Emirates last month.

Read also: Normalisation deal with Netanyahu would betray Palestinians, along with Sudan's refugees in Israel

Sudan normalised relations with Israel on Friday.

While Sudan does not have the influence or wealth of the Gulf Arab countries, a deal with the African country would be deeply significant for Israel.

Sudan hosted a landmark Arab League conference after the 1967 war with Israel when eight Arab countries approved the "three no's": no peace, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations.

In 1993, the US designated Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism, in part for its support of anti-Israel militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

Under Omar Al-Bashir, Sudan was believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israel was believed to have been behind airstrikes in Sudan that destroyed a weapons convoy in 2009 and a weapons factory in 2012.

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